Updated: Nov 19, 2021
ProtestBlog.org Isaac Wright Jr
In 1991, a Somerset County, New Jersey, jury decided Isaac Wright Jr. was a drug kingpin and sent him to prison for life plus 70 years on related charges. Except Wright didn’t do it—he was framed by the very prosecutor arguing the case against him. Wright spent the next seven years studying law from his maximum-security prison cell, eventually proving his innocence and winning his freedom. He achieved significant legal victories for 20 of his fellow inmates along the way.
Sounds like the perfect plot for a TV show, right? That’s exactly what rapper/TV producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson thought when he heard Wright’s story. Jackson assembled a team to adapt Wright’s story, and the fictionalized drama, For Life, debuted in February on ABC. But there’s more. To overturn his convictions, Wright first won a state supreme court case for another inmate, which he then used to invalidate his own kingpin conviction. The remaining convictions crumbled after a dramatic court hearing where Wright got a veteran police detective to admit he’d lied to the jury in Wright’s original trial. Later, both the judge and the prosecutor involved in Wright’s original case were investigated by federal authorities for crimes unrelated to Wright’s case, including tax fraud and embezzlement. Both were convicted. The judge ended up disbarred and in prison; the prosecutor killed himself rather than serve time. Wright was pro se when he did his trial from prison, unlike his TV persona. He spent seven years post-release earning back-to-back undergraduate and law degrees.
Today, Wright is a litigator with the Newark, New Jersey-based firm Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley, primarily practicing criminal law. He also founded the Isaac Wright Jr. Network for Justice, which upon its completion will be a searchable national online database for legal and social justice non-profit.
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